Q&A: Multi-Site and Video-Venue Churches

Multi-Site and Video-Venue Churches

Question

Several churches in my area use this technique to grow beyond the limits of a constrained site or to reach out to other areas of a large city. Some churches join with a larger church for financial reasons, or to gain the resources of the larger church. The smaller site still has a local pastoral staff and a teaching pastor who delivers messages on Sundays. I've also read about a number of churches across the country (mostly non-denominational, it seems) that are rapidly expanding through the use of video venues. The senior pastor's message is either taped and played back or live simulcast from the original church location as part of an otherwise "live" service at the video venue. While I'm not entirely comfortable with it, no scriptural arguments against it come to mind. What are your thoughts?

Answer

Well, there is nothing unbiblical about communicating one's teaching through video. After all, the apostles pastored via written correspondence on a fairly regular basis. Wouldn't you like to have a video of Paul preaching to the Corinthians to go along with his letters?

The bigger issue is whether or not the satellite churches have sufficient oversight from the elders. And there is biblical precedent for one body of elders leading fairly large groups of people, even over broad geography. Compare, for instance, the seventy elders of Israel that ruled as one body over the nation (Num. 11:16-17). Some scholars believe that in the New Testament, there were multiple churches in larger cities and regions (cf. Gal 1:2), and that these churches all reported to the same group of elders. There is at least some indication that the pattern was to appoint elders for towns rather than for churches (Tit. 1:5).

So long as sufficient oversight is available, it seems to me that the model can work. Certainly there is nothing wrong with churches uniting with one another rather than remaining independent — unity is preferable to independency. And there is nothing wrong with piping in good teaching from a remote location. The biggest drawbacks have to do with the inability of the preacher to have close relationships with the congregants, somewhat hampering his ability to apply his text. But this same problem is shared by all large churches. Moreover, it's often better to listen to a good preacher who doesn't know you than to a poor one who does.

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.